Dec. 31st, 2011

I got the call today from the hospice. It certainly wasn’t an unexpected call, but it was jarring anyway; I felt numb as I hung up the phone. Bonnie stood in the doorway, drying a plate. She took in the expression on my face.

“How long?” she asked.

“Not long,” I said. “They’ve…” I struggled to maintain my composure. “They’ve made it as comfortable as they could, but it won’t be long now.” I took off my glasses so I could wipe my eyes. “They told me… I should hurry.”

“Oh, honey,” said Bonnie, coming over and resting a hip on the table. She put her arm around me, and I leaned into her, sniffling a little. Bonnie ran her fingers through my hair and kissed my head.

“I know this is hard,” she whispered.

“It’s horrible,” I said hoarsely. “No writer should ever have to outlive their writing project.”

Read more... )
This month's word count: 54862. Full project word count: 647685. Success!

At the beginning of this project, I had no idea what to expect in terms of writing volue. I thought I might want to write a little more than [livejournal.com profile] crisper, but I wasn't sure how much that would be. I figured if I could write a thousand words a day I would be lucky. Obviously, that proved to be insufficient for the kind of writing I wanted to do. After the first month I figured it would be easy to do 60k words a month, leading to me ending at 720k total. Obviously that was too ambitious. About 50k words and some change seemed to be a comfortable amount to write in a typical month. Given that in this same interval I held down a full-time job requiring attention far outside the 9 to 5 schedule, managed to stay married, and managed to still have kids who love me and friends who don't hate me, I feel pretty good about this.

When I set out to do this project, I knew I wanted to achieve some things. One, I wanted to have the good feeling that I sometimes get when I write something worth writing and reading. I hadn't done much of that in 2010, and I felt its absence. I think I did okay here; even though it was not an explicit objective to generate good stories, I felt there were a number of moments where I'll still like the finished product, even after I go back and read everything through and do my ritual cringing and self-flagellation.

Two, I wanted to see if I could do it. Here I have to give a giant shout-out to [livejournal.com profile] crisper. About eighteen years ago I publicly said "hey we should do this stupid thing" And then Dan said "yeah this could be stupid awesome we should totally do it" And then I said "Holy cow, we could seriously do this stupid crazy shit, we might actually pull it off!" And then Dan said "JESUS IT IS GOING TO HAPPEN, ISN'T IT!" And then I said "YEAH MOTHERFUCKER YEAH, WE ARE TOO STUPID NOT TO DO THIS INCREDIBLY, DANGEROUSLY STUPID THING!!" So we did something stupid, because we didn't know enough to know that sensible people wouldn't do something like that, and indeed it was stupid, but also awesome, and on my deathbed I will be grinning and nodding to myself about that one time when Dan and I talked each other into great, yet satisfying, stupidity. So when Dan did something else stupid yet awesome by writing every day in 2010, there was really no chance in the world that I wasn't going to do it too. Dan and I are friends, even though years go by where we don't exchange email, precisely because our heads dwell in a similar sick headspace, and because our sick efforts make each other better. Some day I am going to jump off a bridge, and Dan is going to do it too, not because I told him to do it, but because he will be certain that he can jump to his death better and more stylishly than I can, and he'll be right, and my mangled remains will say to his mangled remains, "...best two out of three?"

Three, I wanted to get better at writing. I have succeeded at this in an unexpected way. I don't think the mechanics of my writing have improved. I do think that I have gotten better at writing in bulk. In 2010, you could have told me "write fifty thousand words on a topic. Go." And I would have not known how to proceed. I now know how to proceed. I am likely to not *want* to write you fifty thousand words, but gun to my head, I know I can do it, probably in under a month. I have gotten much, much better at this. I have also gotten very good at committing to writing. I was mostly on time in meeting the deadline, and when I was late, I was not more than an hour or two late in all but a handful of situations. I managed to keep writing when I was vacationing, when I was sick, when I was miserable, when I was drunk, and when I was distracted by a thousand little things. I feel good about that.

Four, I wanted to amuse my friends. My friends are often amused when I write. I like this; it makes me cackle. This year I feel like I have amused my friends often. I also feel that I have made many new friends, and they have been amused too. That's pretty cool.

So, all in all, I feel like I achieved my goals for this project. As mentioned in earlier postings, my goal is not to publish anything, although I reserve the right to change my mind on this subject later. I write because I love to write, and I am certain that writing for publication would suck the joy out of this. So, I don't think you'll be seeing a WEDAY book any time soon. I'll let you know if this changes.

What next? I don't know. I suspect I will not write for a while. Frankly, for 2012 I'm making it a priority to catch up on my health. I'm very out of shape and have a number of health problems that will not get better unless I step up my efforts to live a healthy life. I feel that I can put just a quarter of the energy into exercise and proper eating/drinking as I have put into this project, then I can make dramatic improvements in the quality of my life. That's just as worthwhile as feeling good about writing.

But I'm sure I'll write again, probably sooner than later. I love it too much. So watch this space, and hopefully I'll be amusing my friends again before too much longer.

Thank you so much to everybody for your support! I am especially indebted to those persons (you know who you are) who sent me edits, either through comments or by email, so I could fix things that were stupid. I must also thank my wife and kids; I'll be paying a lot more attention to you in 2012, believe me.

Thanks, everybody! Woohoo! Happy New Year!

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